Our needs differ by degree, not kind

The 2022 CrossFit Games begin today, and the second workout includes progressively longer intervals of running and pressing 300 lbs overhead for maximum reps in a given time.  If that sounds ridiculous, that’s because it is.  The absolute strength required to even qualify for this annual event to crown The Fittest on Earth is amazing, and also non-negotiable.  If you can’t lift that weight, you can’t compete, and that’s it.  But while strength might be the most impressive athletic capacity on display at The Games, if you don’t also have world class speed, stamina, endurance, and the coordination to quickly learn and apply new physical skills (that are announced on the day of competition), you will not be competitive.  The eventual winners of the CrossFit Games this Sunday are not going to win every event over the course of the week, but they are going to be very good at everything.  They are the best athletes in the world, and while I no longer consider myself to be a competitive CrossFit athlete, I get so excited to see these guys throw down at the CrossFit Games each year.

On the other hand, the CrossFit Games have also become our biggest detriment as CrossFit affiliates to get new people into our gyms.  If my only interaction with CrossFit was The Games, I think I would be pretty wary of stepping into a CrossFit gym too!  We get messages from folks all the time who are interested in CrossFit because they have heard of its effectiveness from their friends and family, but feel that it might be too much for them, or maybe they are past the age where it would be a safe training program for them.

I went back to one of the first articles from the CrossFit Journal in 2003, searching for a succinct quote that I remembered from CrossFit’s founder, Greg Glassman on the broad effectiveness of CrossFit training with all age groups, and how to implement it.

“The needs of the elderly and professional athletes differ by degree, not kind.  Where one needs functional competency to maintain independence, the other needs functional mastery to maintain dominance.  Improved hip capacity will help a pro ball player’s throw to first; it will also reduce the chances of grandpa falling in the tub.  The squat is the perfect tool for both.”

What this quote means to me is that we all can benefit greatly from CrossFit training, as long as we understand that the program can and should be modified to match our current capacity.  While this might sound like an obvious exaggeration, an example would be that we would never expect a new CrossFit athlete – of any age – to attempt the above CrossFit Games workout of running and heavy overhead barbell lifts as written.  However, that workout, modified to include walking or jogging at a manageable pace and pressing lightweight dumbbells would be a great starting point.

To that extent, we would like to offer a few group “Introduction to CrossFit” classes in the near future for anyone who would like to see what we do and if it would be a good fit.  For our first class, we will focus on the squat – why it is important, how to do it safely and efficiently.  As Coach Glassman mentions in the quote above, we all need to be able to squat in order to maintain a full, independent lifestyle!

Feel free to pass this message along to anyone you know that might be interested or need to see this.

Happy CrossFit Games Week!

Ryan

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